Posted: January 8, 2008 9:04 PM
McCain Completes Unlikely Comeback, Projected Winner in N.H.
Sen. John McCain, who just four months ago was given up for politically dead, surged on an independent tide to take the Republican primary in New Hampshire Tuesday.
The victory was a blow to the campaign of former Gov. Mitt Romney who outspent McCain $8 million to $4 million on television ads in New Hampshire.
For McCain, it thrust the senior senator from Arizona back into contention for the GOP nomination. His campaign had been described as “toast” this summer amid fundraising shortfalls and the dismissal of many of his senior advisers, but the win repositions him among the leading candidates.
“[H]e has jumped back dramatically among Republicans, as well as getting back to his independent voters that he relied on in 2000,” Amy Walter, editor-in-chief of the National Journal’s The Hotline, told the NewsHour Tuesday night. “But what’s different about this race than 2000 is that not only are people different, but John McCain is different, too.”
For the McCain camp, they had said the New Hampshire vote would affirm the candidate’s decision to continue his support of the troop surge in Iraq and other unpopular issues.
“John came to New Hampshire, stood before us and told us what he believes, not just what we wanted to hear. He had the respect, courage and integrity to tell us the truth — the same characteristics that New Hampshire voters will send to the White House when they vote for John McCain on Tuesday,” McCain’s New Hampshire Vice Chair Jayne Millerick said in a news release.
Analysts agreed that supporters of McCain embraced the fact that he would stand by his positions even if they run counter to the Republican mainstream.
“They like John McCain in spite of his positions,” Mark Shields said before the polls closed. “John McCain is a rather bizarre candidate in that he says to the voters, ‘well there’s one other thing, if you’re gonna vote for me, there’s one other thing you ought to know. I’m for global warming, I’m attacking global warming, one other place I might disagree with Republicans, you know I did vote against those tax cuts and I would still vote against those tax cuts.’”
For Romney, the results were another blow to a campaign that had planned on riding victories in Iowa and New Hampshire to the nomination.
“Well, another silver. I’d rather have gold but I got another silver,” Romney told supporters Tuesday night. “There have been three races so far, I’ve gotten two silvers and one gold.”
Romney went on to describe Washington as “broken” and said, “It is not going to get done by a Washington insider.”
Exit polls indicated that New Hampshire voters were angered by the campaign Mitt Romney, who ran a series of blistering ads aimed largely at McCain. Some 30 percent of those who voted Republican said they felt Romney’s campaign had been unfair, compared with only 10 percent who accused McCain of the same tactics.
The polls also indicated that a surprising number of voters made up their mind in the final moments of the campaign with 18 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats saying they settled on a candidate on the day of the primary.
McCain also hailed the fact that he narrowly won both among Republican and independent voters.
“Tonight’s results will show that we took a majority of all sections of the party, and we can do it again,” McCain told the AP.
For Republicans in New Hampshire, they also cited concerns about the economy with 79 percent saying they were worried about the economy and only 51 percent of the GOP voters rated the nation’s economy as excellent or good.